Opinion | It’s time for more than just ‘thoughts and prayers’

By on February 20, 2018

For a country that claims to be the home of the brave, we sure are led by a bunch of cowards.

If you somehow haven’t heard by now, 17 people were killed and another 23 were injured in a school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida.

The shooting was the 18th to occur on a school campus in 2018 and the third mass shooting to happen on a campus in 2018, according to Time Magazine. And it was only the 45th day of the year.

The legitimacy behind the 18 to occur on school campuses has been questioned. John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich of the Washington Post pointed out that just five of the shootings happened during school hours, but that is five too many.

Moments after the shooting was reported, President Trump tweeted out his “prayers and condolences.”

Not only did the president’s tweet set the tone for what other politicians would say about the attack, but it likely ended any possibility of anything being done in response to the attack.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted seven times in the hours following the attack. None of them mentioned any idea of resolve. In fact, one of them said that it’s a “terrible day you pray never comes.”

Ian Berkey
Even though Senator Rubio essentially admitted that “thoughts and prayers” don’t work, he still hasn’t taken a stance for gun control.

So, why isn’t this senator providing a solution for gun control?

Well, for starters, he received $90,205 in donations from gun rights advocate groups during the 2015-16 campaign cycle. That was third most for any politician in that cycle, according to the New York Daily News.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) also holds the senator in high regards as he has an A-plus grade from the organization, meaning that he has an “excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues.”

The New York Times also reported in 2017 that the senator has received more than $3.3 million from the NRA throughout his political career.

How about the speaker of the house, Paul Ryan? The person who is third in line in terms of power in Washington? Maybe he can do something to fix this problem?

Guess again. Not only did Ryan receive an A-plus grade from the NRA, but he also received $176,927 in donations from gun rights groups during the last election cycle, which was the most for any politician during that cycle, according to the New York Daily News.

One would hope that Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, would be willing to do something about the situation, but like the aforementioned politicians, he also doesn’t want to talk about gun control right now.

“There’s a time to have such conversations,” the governor said at a press conference following the attack. “There’s a time to continue to have these conversations about how through law enforcement, how through mental illness funding that we make sure that people are safe.”

You would think that Governor Scott would have a greater sense of urgency to do something, especially considering that a nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016 killed 50 people while he was governor.

But like the previous two politicians, Scott too has an A-plus grade from the NRA. In fact, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund praised the governor in 2014 for signing “more pro-gun bills into law in one term than any other governor in Florida history.”

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy called out Congress for being responsible for gun violence across the country.

“This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting, it only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction,” Murphy said on the Senate floor following the attacks. “We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”

In the day after the shooting, Ryan called for the nation to unify during his weekly press conference.

“This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” the speaker said. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically and just pulling together. This House and the whole country stands with the Parkland community.”

If the House of Representatives does stand with the Parkland community, then we should expect changes in the nation’s gun laws. Thoughts and prayers provide nothing to the community. You actually have to do something to fix it.

On Feb. 17, the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting spoke out against the politicians who claimed that it is too soon to talk about gun control.

“All these people should be at home grieving,” Emma Gonzalez, a senior student at the school, said. “But instead we are up here, standing together, because if all our government and president can do is send ‘thoughts and prayers,’ then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”

Gonzalez also had a message for the president.

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a ‘terrible tragedy,’ I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the NRA,” she said.

The president received over $11 million in donations in the 2016 campaign from the NRA while the organization spent nearly $20 million against his opponent, according to Fortune.

Melissa Falkowsi, a teacher at the school, made it clear that now is the time to discuss gun control.

“They say ‘it’s not the time’ — Now is the time! There is no other time!” she said.

Going off of those who were most affected by the attack, if these politicians don’t act now on gun control, it is a clear sign that they value their money and power more than the concerns and safety of their constituents. Not doing anything to safen the lives of children to receive political money is an act of cowardess. There’s no two ways about it.

“No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American,” the president said at the end of his tweet moments after the Parkland shooting.

Well, Mr. President, if we really want to be the “land of the free,” then maybe it’s time for you to do something about it.

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About Conor Roche

Twitter: @ConorRoche27